Volunteering in Your Community

The range of ways to contribute something valuable and meaningful in your local community is vast.

No matter what time, skills or experience you may have, there is something waiting out there.

It may take some searching, some patience and a little trial and error. But the outcome will be more than worth it.

  • Where to find a volunteer role

    A simple first step to finding a rewarding volunteer role is the website of your local authority – look under ‘volunteers’. This tells you what they have available and, most likely, has links to local charities seeking help.

    There’s also the ‘scientific’ approach of asking around and keeping your eyes open. Notice boards in your library, doctor’s surgery and so on my have something. Or one of the many charity shops.

    There are also two goldmines for you to explore:

    • Donate your professional skills through Reach: This ‘clearing house’ links those with skills in management, IT, finance, communications, mentoring, fundraising, accountancy, marketing, HR and more to charities desperate to use them. This can be from a few hours a week to full time.
    • Search a register of volunteer roles at CharityJob: At almost any time there are up to 3,000 volunteer posts here, searchable on post code and the kind of activity you are interested in.
  • Examples of volunteer opportunities

    From the myriad of possibilities, the following are illustrations of ways your time, talents and experience can be used to serve others:

    Childline: This lifeline for children and young people needs volunteers 24 hours a day, every day of the year. And can take volunteers for as little as 4 hours a week. They even offer an email counselling role’

    Open the Book: This uses teams of volunteers to creatively bring classic stories from the Bible to life for children in primary school assemblies and collective worship. Doing so using drama, mime, props, costume – and even the children and staff themselves.

    The commitment, as part of a team, can be as little as about an hour a week during term time. With lots of guidance and training on hand. And if there’s no local Open the Book group near you there is lots of help available for you to start one.

    © Open the Book

    Bill Sanderson, a retired chemist, is now the main storyteller for an Open the Book team. Though busy, he says, ‘I thought I’d give it a try, and I’ve never looked back. This is about bringing the Bible to life for a generation that don’t get these stories at home’.

    Bill adds, ‘I have never been part of a drama group or anything like that. But since doing Open the Book, I’ve played God, Peter, the devil and everything. It’s true what they say, that it’s easier to be a baddie’.

    Bill Sanderson

    Good Neighbours: Organised by the Royal Voluntary Service, this offers a way to give practical help to elderly people. From small household tasks to running errands. It also offers a way to spend time with a lonely older person either face to face or on the phone.

    Independent Age: Become a Volunteer Visitor – for even an hour a week – to those feeling low or lonely. You just need to be a good listener, empathetic and friendly.

    The Samaritans: There are vacancies for volunteers to listen, support or fund-raise.

    Support a school through Scripture Union: They have identified many ways to serve schools as a volunteer including –

    • Supporting class trips, as a teacher assistant, in the library, setting up displays etc. And helping at a breakfast or homework club, or at an extra curriculum group – sports clubs, drama groups etc
    • Joining a parent-teacher association or ‘Friends of the School’ or become a Governor – and so becoming a vital link between parents and school
    • Mentoring students – with students needing good role models who are prepared to listen
    • Support the staff who often feel stressed – praying for them, listening, offering practical help and showing appreciation
    • Raising funds – with schools often stretched for resources
    • Pray, and set up a prayer support group.

    Contact Scripture Union for the help and advice you might need.

Do you know of volunteering opportunities in your community? Why not share them on the AfterWorkNet Facebook group? And don’t forget to Sign Up to our inspiring blog.

The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife